FORT BENNING, Ga. — The US Army made a bold leap this week, completely phasing out the Ranger School at Fort Benning, and replacing it with a multiplayer role-playing game (MPRPG), completed entirely online, called "Ranger Games."
Col. Dustin Dorne, the Ranger Training Brigade commander, insisted that the program will still teach leadership and patrolling, while also increasing the school’s reach and lower the price per student, like many existing Army classes that have already gone digital.
“Every single task from the former Ranger School schedule has been made into a digital feature,” said Dorne in a recent interview. “To complete these missions, students will develop their stats of strength, endurance, and intelligence in a multiplayer teamwork environment. Levels and attributes will hopefully carry over to future Army expansion packs, like Sniper School and Air Assault.”
Ranger Instructors (RIs) have become non-player characters. Originally, real-world RIs were going to be actual players sitting at computers, but during test runs the RIs either behaved like robots, or created extra problems to troll the student players.
“Automating the instructors has made our course more consistent than ever,” claimed Dorne.
Metrics on Ranger Games already show a reduced risk of injury and death, despite a few cases of carpal tunnel syndrome. “In the past, coming to Ranger School during the summer meant heat casualties, and training during winter caused hypothermia, both of which really wreck soldiers, but not anymore,” commented Dorne.
“To keep it realistic and tough, we didn’t just throw those concepts out the window, though. In-game, Rangers can work on building their elemental resistances, along with items they can use for heat and cold damage reduction. Fair warning: Heat Cat 5 and Snivel Gear are extremely rare items, and usually can’t be equipped.”
Ranger Games is now carried out at Fort Benning in a holding bay full of cots and computers. During patrols, students are still not allowed to eat or sleep unless they are also doing so in the game. While in the field, a student may consume a real MRE or a bowl of Ramen noodles at his work station.
“Fort Benning is just the first. We’re opening sites like this at every major Army base, connected across the globe.” added Dorne.
For a change of pace, rifle ranges and airborne jumps are first-person mini-games. A negligent discharge or jump refusal, however, will still result in being dropped from the training.
“It’s the hardest thing I ever did,” said Spc. Andrew Kim, who was chosen as the last class’s honor graduate. “Half of my friends got washed out or recycled. A lot of the guys that seemed like shitbags actually did really good, though. I guess you never know.”